Giraffe neck evolution explained, according to ScienceDaily 7 October 2015 and Royal Society Open Science, 2015 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150393. A group of researchers at New York Institute of Technology have studied a total of 71 neck vertebrae of nine extinct giraffes, living giraffes and the okapi – a short neck animal classified as a member of the giraffe family. They analysed the anatomical features of the bones, and measured the length to width ratio. They noted that in some of the extinct giraffes only the cranial part (head end) of the bones was elongated, but in living giraffes both the cranial and caudal (tail) ends of the bone are elongated.
They then compared their analysis with an evolutionary tree, and carried out a “computational tracking model of the evolutionary elongation” by comparing the third cervical vertebrae (C3) of an extinct giraffe named Samotherium and the living giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis.
According to Melinda Danowitz, one of the research team, they “found that the most primitive giraffe already started off with a slightly elongated neck. The lengthening started before the giraffe family was even created 16 million years ago”. They concluded the cranial end of the vertebra stretched initially around 7 million years ago in the Samotherium, then a second stage of elongation of the caudal portion happened around one million years ago, resulting in the very long neck of the living giraffe.
The research team also suggested the okapi’s neck underwent “secondary shortening”, i.e. its neck shrunk as it evolved away from its long necked ancestors.
Editorial Comment: This is a classic example of imposing an idea on the evidence. Arranging the bones according to an already held belief in evolution is not evidence. No-one has observed a short necked animal change into a long necked animal. If there are nine extinct giraffes whose neck bones are not as long as the living giraffes, then it simply means those giraffes have died out. That may have been a case of losing out in the struggle for life, but it is not evolution.
The “secondary shortening” of the okapi’s neck is another idea imposed on the evidence. The okapi has only ever been observed to be an okapi with the neck it has now, and it has only ever been observed to reproduce its own kind. The idea that it is a de-evolved giraffe is wishful thinking on behalf of those who draw up evolutionary trees and need to fit this animal somewhere.
Finally, it takes more than just a few long vertebrae to make a giraffe’s neck. The giraffe must also have a strong heart to pump blood up to its head, blood vessels that can be adjusted to cope, even when the giraffe lowers its head. Add to that the need for strong elastic ligaments that hold the neck at the correct angle so it is well balanced when the animal is walking, and you can reiterate the challenge we make to Richard Dawkins et al, who claim the giraffe cannot have been designed at all, i.e. when you have made a better giraffe you will be qualified to comment, until then any claims about the evolution of the giraffe are great examples of arrogant ignorance. (Ref. mammals, fossils, osteology, classification)
Evidence News vol. 15, No. 18
14 October 2015
Creation Research Australia